NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: 5 Spreads For Pick’Em Pools, Including Ravens & Vikings In Week 6
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson.
- Whether you're in pick'em pools or are just looking for the best NFL spread picks, our analyst has you covered.
- He outlines the five ATS picks he made for a Week 6 contest below, including the Ravens and Vikings.
I’ll be picking five NFL sides each week of the season for DraftKings‘ Pro Football Millionaire Pick’Em contest. Note that the spreads for this contest lock on Wednesdays, so some will be stale by the time you read this and thus not readily available outside of the contest. But you can check real-time NFL odds here.
Here were the five sides for this week’s entry:
- Baltimore Ravens -2.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Minnesota Vikings -1.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Green Bay Packers -4.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Cleveland Browns -2.5: 4:05 p.m. ET
- New England Patriots +3.5: 4:25 p.m. ET
Week 6 NFL Pick’Em Picks
1. Baltimore Ravens -2.5
I faded the Los Angeles Chargers last week, as I thought the Cleveland Browns had major advantages with their ability to run the ball. The Chargers defense is dead last in rushing yards per game (157.6), yards per rush (5.6) while allowing a 50% rushing success rate on the ground.
Cleveland ran for 230 yards on 6.6 yards per rush and was equally effective through the air with Baker Mayfield throwing for 305 yards and two touchdowns on 9.1 yards per pass. While it didn’t work out for us backing the Browns, that was a game in which they held a 14-point second-half lead before Justin Herbert and the Chargers were able to mount a comeback.
After three straight games against the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns, the Chargers now fly east to deal with Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. Jackson is playing like an MVP candidate and given his dual-threat ability, and I have trouble believing this struggling Chargers defense has any chance of slowing him down.
The Chargers are making their living on third and fourth downs, ranking 22nd in early down success rate while converting third downs 10.9% over expectation. Eventually, this will regress to the mean.
Even more incredible is how historically great the Chargers are on fourth downs this season, going 8-for-8 with seven of those drives ending with a touchdown. At some point, regression has to kick in, and I’m betting it starts here.
2. Minnesota Vikings -1.5
There’s a reason we saw this number go across zero to have the Minnesota Vikings become the favorite after the Carolina Panthers initially opened as a one-point favorites.
The great Jay-Z once rapped, there’s only so long fake thugs can pretend, and there’s no better lyric to describe Sam Darnold, who is starting to resemble the quarterback we all knew he was during his tenure with the New York Jets. He has thrown five interceptions in the last two games after just one in his first two in 2021.
The biggest issue for the Panthers is their offensive line, which is struggling to protect Darnold. He was pressured on 43% of his drop backs against the Philadelphia Eagles last week. The Panthers are 31st in ESPN’s pass block win rate and 29th in run block win rate, so if this team can’t protect Darnold and he’s inaccurate while giving the ball away, this offense is in trouble.
Christian McCaffrey was ruled out on Friday, so it’s tough to see how this Panthers offense gets better.
As we saw the last two weeks, this defense has come back to earth, as well. After playing the two rookie quarterbacks in Davis Mills and Zach Wilson, as well as a Saints team dealing with COVID-19 issues, the Panthers have been carved up by the Cowboys and Eagles over the past two weeks. I’m expecting the same from Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and the Minnesota Vikings.
3. Green Bay Packers -4.5
This line feels short and when you consider the success the Green Bay Packers have had against the Chicago Bears during Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers’ tenures, it’s tough to not back the Packers in this spot. Since joining the Packers as head coach, LaFleur is 4-0 against the spread (ATS) against the Bears and Aaron Rodgers is 21-4 straight-up (SU).
Trends aside, I’m not seeing how the Bears keep up in this matchup. Justin Fields hasn’t been asked to do much for a Bears offense that ranks 31st in Football Outsiders DVOA, 30th in EPA/play, 27th in Success Rate and 21st in Early Down Success Rate. Fields was just 12-of-20 for 111 yards in last week’s 20-9 win against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Although 4.2 yards per play is enough to defeat the Raiders, who probably were ill-prepared in light of the controversy surrounding Jon Gruden, it won’t be enough here against Rodgers and a Packers team that is 10th in Football Outsiders DVOA and third in EPA/play and 10th in Success Rate if you remove their 38-3 loss in Week 1 to the New Orleans Saints.
This could be a close game initially, but I expect the Packers to score enough late to cover this number. I’ll back the Packers to cover the 4.5 points.
4. Cleveland Browns -2.5
The Cleveland Browns are in the perfect position to knock off the league’s last undefeated team in the 5-0 Arizona Cardinals this week.
The Cardinals have one of the league’s worst run defenses, ranking 27th in Rushing Success Rate, 31st in yards per carry (5.4) and 28th in rushing yards per game (139). They’re coming off a game against the San Francisco 49ers in which they allowed 154 yards on 5.4 yards per carry.
The Cardinals were out-gained in yardage against the Niners, 338-304, and yards per play 5.7-5.1 and were fortunate to win based on San Francisco going 1-of-5 on fourth down, including a stop at the goal line and multiple stops inside of Cardinals territory.
The Cardinals might not be so lucky this week against a Browns offense that leads the league in rushing with 187.6 rushing yards per game, even though Cleveland is going to be without Nick Chubb due to a calf injury.
The Browns are first in rushing EPA/play and fourth in rushing success rate, so I expect Cleveland to gash the Cardinals on the ground just as the Vikings did in its Week 2 loss. In that game the Vikings rushed for 177 yards on 6.6 yards per carry against Arizona with a 48% rushing success rate on early downs. Given the Browns use of play action with Baker Mayfield, that should also open up explosive plays through the air.
The Cardinals will also be missing star linebacker Chandler Jones, who tested positive for COVID-19. Jones has five sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery this season, so this is a huge loss for the Cardinals against this Browns offense.
Kyler Murray is dealing with a right shoulder injury and we saw how the second half of last season was derailed after he dealt with a similar injury. With there being a chance of 18 mph winds, we could see this explosive Cardinals offense suppressed by the weather.
Overall, this is a good spot to back the Browns to knock off the NFL’s last undefeated team.
5. New England Patriots +3.5
The Dallas Cowboys are over-performing in the betting market by starting off the season 5-0 ATS, but how much of this is misleading? The Cowboys are second in turnover differential and takeaways, but this is an average defense which is getting by on turnover luck.
The Cowboys are giving up 390 yards per game, in addition to ranking 15th in Early Down Success Rate, 17th in ESPN’s pass rush win rate and 28th in pressure rate. That shows this is not a team which can rush the passer.
Last week, the New England Patriots played the Houston Texans and were down four starting offensive lineman, and we should see the return of left guard Mike Onwenu and left tackle Isaiah Wynn this week. Although last week was a let down spot against the Texans after a high-profile game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mac Jones and this Patriots offense should be able to find some success here.
While stepping in front of this train with a Cowboys offense led by Dak Prescott that is scoring 34 points a game and is second in Success Rate is scary, if there’s any coach who is equipped to put together a game plan to slow down this offense it’s Bill Belichick. Given the coaching edge Belichick has over Mike McCarthy, this feels like an ideal spot to back the Patriots.
The look-ahead line on this Game before Week 5 was Cowboys -1 and now we’re sitting at -3.5. With my model making this game Cowboys -2.5, I’ll take the Patriots to cover and they should have a chance to win this game outright.